Maritime Spatial Planning Directive

Europe's ocean energy industry have welcomed the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, which was adopted last month by the EU's General Affairs Council, but warned that member states must take a longterm view when implementing the Directive.

Once implemented by member states, the directive will help avoid potential conflicts between diverse uses and create a stable environment attractive to investors, thereby contributing to sustainable growth.

Rémi Gruet, policy and operations director at Ocean Energy Europe told Maritime Journal: “The adoption of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive give a clearer picture of which sea areas are used by which sea users. However, there is a clear risk that new users come out worse, given their lesser level of development, and their future economic potential must be taken into account rather than only their current economic footprint. We ask Members States to ensure that new sea users, such as renewable ocean energy, be included in the early sea planning processes.”

 In implementing the directive, Member States will be asked to draw up maritime spatial plans. These will identify all existing human activities and the most effective way of managing them. They will have to fulfil the following minimum requirements:

  • take into account interactions between the sea and land;
  • establish appropriate cross-border cooperation between Member States;
  • establish means of public participation for stakeholders, authorities and the public concerned;
  • use of the best available data and organise the sharing of information between stakeholders;

Commissioner for the Environment Janez Potočnik added: "This is a good example of how economic development and safeguarding the environment can go hand in hand. Good planning means a win on both counts."

By Jake Frith

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